Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Major League Baseball Beans Jon Stewart, and Obama’s Pitch Vanishes

stewart-obamaRemember last week, when President Barack Obama threw out the first pitch at baseball’s All-Star Game? And remember the ensuing fuss about his form? And remember how Jon Stewart sliced through all of the crap with his typically incisive wit?

Alas, you’ve got no choice but to remember that last part. It has disappeared from the Web, apparently at the behest of Major League Baseball.

Stewart dissected the media hubhub about Obama’s pitch–and in particular Fox News’s analysis of it–on his July 15 show. But if you watch the archived version of that show at Viacom’s (VIA) “Daily Show” Web site, you’ll find that the bit has been cut out of his opening monologue. It once ran for two minutes and 43 seconds, but now the archive stops short at the 55-second mark.

And if you try to watch that episode on Hulu, the Web site owned by News Corp. (NWS), GE’s (GE) NBC and Disney (DIS), you’ll find that it’s gone altogether, replaced by a message blaming “rights issues” (click image to enlarge):


What happened? The story, via Viacom officials, is that pro baseball officials contacted them this week and told them to take down the Obama footage, which it owns.

The argument, I’m told, is that the MLB was fine with Stewart (and every other TV show in the country) using the clip under “fair use” terms–the footage itself was a news story, and Stewart was adding value via his commentary, etc. But it balked at the notion of the footage remaining in Viacom’s archives, and circulating on the Web, forever.

None of that makes any sense, of course: There’s no reason that Stewart’s use of the clip should be okay, but only for a limited time. And if Viacom wanted to spend time fighting MLB on this, it certainly could have.

But presumably, the company figures it wants to use its legal resources elsewhere–like fighting the never-ending copyright lawsuit it filed against Google (GOOG) and YouTube. Remember that one?

In any case, I’ve reached out to MLB to make sure I’m not missing anything here. And of course, you can still find all sorts of footage of the pitch, along with other anchors making fun of it, all over the Web. Like this one:

Here’s an edited version of the beginning of the July 15 episode of the “Daily Show.” Before you click on it, note the title of the clip, and it’s original running time.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Obama’s All-Star Pitch
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Joke of the Day

I’m told that an edited version of the show will show up on Hulu again later tonight or on Thursday.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work